1763 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Shenstone

Edward Cooper, "Shenstone's Gardens. An Elegy. Addressed to Mr. Hodgetts, at the Leasowes" Lloyd's Evening Post (7 December 1763) 552.



Long silent lies the Muse's lyre
By careless negligence unstrung,
Nor can we boast poetic fire,
To warm, or animate the song.

The meads no more refresh the swain,
With pleasing Nature's gayest trim,
But darkness broodeth o'er the plain,
And frowns fuliginously grim.

The sons of Riot, lawless train,
The more we sue, deny access,
Who never knew to grieve at pain,
Or felt that happiness — To bless.

But still in Shenstone's vernal bowers
The Muse a solace oft might find,
To spend in thought, the fleeting hours
And read her history — Mankind.

Perchance as near each mossy dell
The pensive wailer oft did rove,
To list'ning woods the Bard would tell
The cares and fears of anxious love.

Ye sacred groves! that have inspir'd,
A pleasing sadness o'er my mind,
How oft my bosom have ye fir'd,
Or kill'd me sweetly — sweetly kind!

But now in pensive, wailing strains,
Each Hamadryad's heard to say,
"Th' accustom'd master's from the plains,
And tunes no more a rural lay,

"The nightingale that greets the shade,
And watch'd him near her fav'rite bower,
(For lonely contemplation made
As solemn, serious midnight hour)

"Alas! no more inspire the grove
Nor trills again her nightly song,
No more complains of faithless love
These sacred groves, and woods among.

"The widow'd blackbird in distress,
In artless sorrow learns to flow,
And muteful silence does possess,
Each feather'd mourner, smit with woe."

Canst thou the son of Science, hear,
This modest, wailing, pensive tale,
And grudge the tribute of a tear
As oft thou stray'st along the vale?—

Within the vernal shade retired
May Hod—tts* then, prolong the day,
Nor sacrifice these groves that fir'd,
A tuneful Shenstone's polish'd lay!

For oh! the richest gems that glow,
On farthest India's sunny coast,
Compar'd, are but as mean, and low,
When once a sweet idea's lost.—

Then may we view the smiling bowers
Each purling brook, and fav'rite tree
Where chearful past, the happy hours,
O Shenstone, best-belov'd, with thee.
Worcestershire.

*The present owner, who, proposes in a laudable manner to keep the walks in the same order — to whom the literary world in general, we presume, is greatly obliged.